Sutton, other Nebraska communities cleaning up from storms

May 12, 2014, 6 a.m. ·


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Nebraskans are cleaning up from a series of powerful thunderstorms and tornadoes that hit the state from Hastings to Omaha Sunday.

As a drizzle fell on downtown Sutton Monday morning, a man in a track loader is scraping debris off of Saunders Avenue.

A man in a track loader cleans up downtown Sutton. (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

A few blocks away, 8-year old Seth Nelson and his mom Michelle described what it was like when a tornado came through around 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon. “She all of a sudden yells, ‘Go to the basement!'” Seth said.

“That’s what moms are supposed to do,” Michelle said.

“I didn’t hear her, and then Angeline got her purse and yelled, ‘Go to the basement!’ I was yelling like ‘OK, fine!'” Seth added.

In the basement, Seth said it was “freaky.”

“It sounded like our house went down, because the tree crashed and hit Chris’s truck and mommy’s car. It shattered the bathroom window,” he said.

Everyone was alright, as they were throughout Sutton, according to Alan Quail, emergency manager with the volunteer fire department.

Seth and Michelle Nelson outside their house in Sutton. (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

The next day, Michelle Nelson was surveying debris in her yard from other buildings in town. “We’ve been cleaning up since yesterday, and we have the rafter here that’s off of either the Brown’s grocery store or the City Hall,” she said.

At City Hall, water drips into a nearly a dozen buckets from a hole where the roof was torn off. City Clerk Sherrie Bartell said this isn’t the first time a tornado or other natural disaster has forced Sutton to improvise. “We’re starting over. We’ve done it before. We’ll clean up again,” she said.

The biggest problem, Quail said, is a lack of electricity. As of Monday morning, it wasn’t expected to be back on again for another 24 hours. Officials set up a generator at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church community center. “That’s the sound of hope there,” Fr. Bill Holoubek said, laughing.

Holoubek said the center will be a place for people from the community to gather, and the Red Cross will be serving food. “They’re trying to make it kind of a source for fellowship,” but also a source for supplies and hot meals for people unable to cook, he said.

Damaged City Hall in Sutton. (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

But back outside her home where she’s cleaning up, Michelle Nelson had other plans. “We’re barbequing,” she said.

Sutton was far from the only place hit by the storms. There was also extensive damage in Beaver Crossing and Cordova, according to Gov. Dave Heineman, who visited all three communities on Monday. There was also damage to homes and trees in the Omaha area. But no one was killed and there were no reports of serious injuries in any of the damaged areas.

One aftereffect of the storm will affect Tuesday’s primary election. Voters who usually vote in Cordova will need to go to the Utica Senior Center. Those who vote in Beaver Crossing will have to go to the Goehner Fire Hall.